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"Cold Justice" Looks At 1988 Hit & Run Death of Rachelle Escalante

I have been watching and writing about this new TNT series since it aired earlier this month and I find the cases thus far have been interesting. The Cold Justice team of Kelly Siegler, Yolanda McCleary and Johnny Bonds have had some success already in the form of Ronnie Hendricks pleading guilty to the murder of his girlfriend Pam Shelley, who was packed up and ready to move out of state when she was found with a gunshot wound to the head. Her death was originally ruled a suicide, but thanks to a renewed investigation and help and attention drawn from Cold Justice's participation netted results.

Next week the team heads to Globe, Arizona to look into the suspected hit and run killing of 17 year old Rachelle Escalante.  I've been looking for news relating to the original investigation from July of 1988 but I haven't come across much at all - the information is scarce.  However, it seems that people who were familiar with this incident are posting comments that indicate the person or people involved with this hit and run are "well known" in that community.  These are only comments and I don't know if there is any validity to them, but I've seen several anonymous postings that state "everybody knows who is responsible for this crime", one even states that one of the responsible parties worked as a cashier in a local store.

Rachelle Escalante

Rachelle Escalante attended a party with friends on July 6, 1988.  A fight reportedly broke out at the party and Rachelle is believed to have left the party on foot.  Patrol Officers Lee Kinnard and Ray Hernandez came across Rachelle crawling across the road later that evening and they stopped to help her but it was too late.  Rachelle Escalante took her last breath and died in the street with the patrol officers at her side.  It certainly sounds like the fight that broke out at that party may be the key to solving this case.  If so many people knew who hit Rachelle and why, I'm curious as to why there were never any arrests made in this case. The few things I've been able to find online about this case is that a Black Trans Am is believed to be the car that was involved, and jealousy over a boy may have led to this tragic event.

I'm posting a link to an article that was published on recently that discusses Cold Justice's involvement in this cold case:

It's not really an article, rather more of an announcement that TNT's Cold Justice is looking into the case - but the comments linked to the announcement are what really caught my attention. Naturally there is no way to tell if the comments posted are in fact from people who legitimately know something, or if they are just pranks, but reading the details of these comments and the common theme that it was no secret who was responsible for running Rachelle Escalante down and what car was used to do it seem to be too detailed to be random prank comments. It sounds like people in that small town had a very good idea of who was involved in this hit and run and why it happened. 

Several people posted comments stating they remember when this happened and they indicate they would be willing to talk to investigators to tell them what they know. Some comments are anonymous and some have names.  An anonymous commenter points to jealousy as the motive for the crime. Rachelle Escalante's younger brother Gabriel (or someone claiming to be Gabriel) left comments asking these people who were commenting to bring their information to the Globe Police Department.

There are a few very specific themes in these comments:  In a comment left on June 2, 2013 somebody named Fawn wrote:  "Gabriel, I was in college at the time, however, when I came home and saw all the signs and markings at the crime scene I was sick and overwhelmed with sorrow for your family.  I have prayed for years that the truth would be exposed, I was ecstatic when this was brought to my attention. As the anonymous comment says above, everyone in town knew about the party, the jealousy outraged sisters, I only wish I could remember their names."

A comment left by Tabitha on June 8, 2013 says: "It's about time!!! Yes - everyone who was around at the time knows exactly who did it, and why the police didn't perform the most basic of investigating at the time, reeks of corruption, bribery and secrets.  I just hope it's not too late - that the women leading this investigation are able to get the proof they need, after the perps were allowed to wash their car and get rid of all other evidence, and the cops ignored or botched everything else".

On September 14, 2013 a comment by Xameria says:  "Wow Tabitha those are some seriously harsh words. Coming from a different perspective, there was a lot of fear surrounding this case, you know as well as I do that the responsible parties have done everything within their power to frighten and keep the people who know the truth quiet. That being said, yes the evidence on the car was washed away within hours of this happening and the police hadn't even begun to put the evidence together. 

It certainly seems that the people who lived in that small town remember this event and haven't forgotten about what happened to Rachelle Escalante. It's alarming to think that people may have known who committed this crime for all these years and law enforcement did not or could not make an arrest - but I'm hoping that a little exposure from Cold Justice is just what this case needs to uncover the truth once and for all.  If you want to see the comments I'm referring to and judge them for yourself, use the link to the announcement and then scroll down to see the various comments left in response to the announcement.

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